10 Best Basketball Shoes Reviewed for Performance

Since the inception of basketball, players and fans alike have been on the hunt for the perfect shoe. One of the originals, the iconic Chuck Taylor created by Marquis Converse paved the way for competitor companies to insert themselves into the shoe industry as well. Not long after, companies like Nike and Puma stepped into the scene, creating shoes that hold legendary status to this day, such as the Nike Blazer and the Puma Clyde.

Best-Basketball-Shoes-two-Players-on-the-court

As you would expect, basketball shoe companies have and always will consistently find ways to improve the performance of their shoes if they are to stay relevant in the industry, utilizing various materials such as flywire technology, specialized leather, mesh and more. Obviously, shoe configuration is also important. Shapeshifting the form of basketball shoes to perform better in terms of their ability to allow the player to be quick on their feet, stable and most important, feel natural on the court.

Last Updated: May 16, 2017
By Sergio Bettiol:

The most recent update reflects 2017’s most popular and functional basketball shoes with specific descriptions on their design, features, and functionalities. An updated research criteria provides further buying advice at the time of selecting basketball shoes, as well as valuable insight on the functioning of basketball shoes.

Featured Recommendations

Nike HyperDunk 2017
  • Nike HyperDunk 2017
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Powerboost midsole
  • Price: See Here
Adidas Crazy Explosive 2017
  • Adidas Crazy Explosive 2017
  • 4.4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Anatomic lacing distribution
  • Price: See Here
Adidas CrazyLight Boost
  • Adidas CrazyLight Boost
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • One-Piece sock-like construction
  • Price: See Here

Famed and sponsored basketball players such as Lebron James and Kevin Durant have been at the forefront of faces in the industry, and together with the shoe companies, conceived some of the greatest shoes out today. With Durant having as many as nine shoes currently tied to his name and Lebron as many as twelve, they together are making a large impact in the basketball shoes created. Being that Basketball is one of the most popular sports, the evolution of the overall quality in shoes made for it and material used was inevitable.

In this list, we take a look at the top ten best basketball shoes of the yearly era, and evaluate the important aspects and values of the shoes.

 

10 Best Basketball Shoes

 

1. Nike Hyper Dunk 2017

It’s hard to go wrong with Nike’s basketball shoes – particularly the Hyperdunk 2017. It’s almost as if Nike managed to compress the sport itself into a single pair of shoes; it counts exactly with what you need to burst through each match. Furthermore, the design of the shoe is very appealing and to the point where they’re widely used as casual footwear. The Hyperdunk 2017 is the point where beastly performance meets unique style.
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Nike react cushioning
When traditional cushioning isn’t enough, Nike’s react technology has your back (or rather your feet). Foam can normally be lightweight or it can be resilient, but with this innovative approach, it can be both. The cushioning core allows your feet to sink in the cushioning and makes use of the impact energy to bounce back to its original state. Thanks to this, underfoot support is delivered during every moment of the game.

Pressure-mapped outsole

Outsoles normally react as a single element that distributes energy equally throughout itself, but Nike takes it to the next level. Their pressure-mapped outsoles react to the pressure of your feet to deliver targeted cushioning and traction on the desired area. Thanks to this, users can make use of their energy much more efficiently at the time of jumping, dribbling, running and pivoting.

Responsive action
When the ground hits you, the Hyperdunk 2017 hits right back. By making use of the force generated by impact, these shoes are able to impulse each of your motions forward. This not only allows you to move faster and achieve explosive jumps, but it also reduces the amount of energy you have to invest into each motion. Your previous movement will impulse the actual one, and the next one after that.
Pros

Breathable, comfortable, and supportive

Top-notch functionalities and technologies

Popular and very good aesthetics

A responsive approach saves you effort

Cons

The outsole design makes it easy to get dirt on it if used outside the court

2. Adidas Crazy Explosive 2017

The combination of Adidas’ intuitive technologies and a very attractive design give birth to the Crazy Explosive 2017. It only takes a basketball match in these shoes to realize you’ve been picking basketball shoes wrong your whole life. So light you may even forget you have them on your feet when performing – but at the same time they’re so comfortable that it’s impossible to not notice, so there’s nothing to worry about.
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Anatomical lacing system
Laces that tighten your upper foot are a thing of the past; Adidas’ lacing system is carefully designed to resemble the anatomical shape of feet. Because of this, the pressure from the laces is distributed effectively throughout the whole frame. This brings the materials closer together to provide you with just exactly the amount of support you’re looking for. Double loops assure a durable lifetime.

Primeknit upper
You can hardly get any lighter and comfortable than primeknit fabric when it comes to basketball shoes upper build. This thin, yet resistant material wraps around your foot and adapts to its shape, generating the same amount of support to feet of all shapes and sizes. The fabric is highly breathable and makes it feel like you’re inserting your feet into a cloud. When wearing this fabric, discomfort loses its meaning.

Boost technology
Adidas believes in one simple standard; the more energy you give, the more energy you get back. With the boost technology, the Craze Explosive 2017 is one of the most responsive basketball shoes you can get your hands on. Upon impact, the boost technology absorbs most of the shock and uses some of it to impulse your next motion. The harder the gait, the more impulse you’ll receive for the next step.
Pros

Utterly light and comfortable upper build fabric

Responsive boost energy-returning system

Unique anatomical lacing system

Sock-like bootee construction

Rubber outsole wraps the midsole and enhances traction

Cons

The traction rubber outsole wrap isn’t as durable when used outdoors

3. Nike Kevin Durant 10

When a professional basketball player and a reputable sports equipment brand come together, great things can happen. One of these things is the Kevin Durant series, and the freshly released tenth edition beats all of its predecessors. The KD 10 is exactly what you would expect from your dream basketball shoes; the right features to perform at your best, and a design that is impossible to not stare at.
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Enhance your senses
The sensibility of the Kevin Durant series was redesigned the offer you the most sensations when playing basketball. Instead of clouding your underfoot, this model allows your feet to be part of the grip. By incorporating your senses into the game, the KD 10 gives you total control over the court. Your feet will become one with this pair and the court, leading to much smoother, faster and controlled motions.

Zoom Air unit
Compressed air has proven to be one of the best methods to absorb shock. Nike’s Zoom Air unit in particular does a unique job at this; the unit not only compresses upon impact and mitigates shock, but it decompresses afterwards and releases the energy. The air unit is visually located just above the outsole and is integrated with the internal midsole design to provide the upmost cushioning.

Foam heel counter
In basketball, the only times where you’re not moving is when the ball leaves the court. All this movement generates stress on the Achilles tendon and the back heel if the counter is not cushioned properly. A foam layer that covers a highly supportive heel counter comforts your feet even when they bounce back against the counter.
Pros

Additional heel and backheel support

Effortless wear and removal

Improved natural feel

Air cushioning reduces dribling effort

Cons

Viewed by some as inferior to its predecessor

4. Adidas Derrick Rose 7

4. Adidas Derrick Rose 7
The Adidas D. Rose series 7 has appeared on the list. A cross over king, it’s no wonder why Derrick Rose's’ shoes has popped up on the list. The D. Rose 7 is a huge contender in style and colorway; performance is not too far behind when it comes to efficiency. This shoe is a high top beast and comes with a long tongue, for fans who favor that certain style. It also brings three different materials together, consisting of mesh, synthetic and suede.
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As I stated earlier the D. Rose 7’s consists three different types of material, mesh, synthetic and suede. The mesh and synthetic provides top tier breathability; the synthetic overlays for a strategic approach to the court.

A noticeable feature is the well molded collar, which provides support and makes it easy to work with and injured brace. This makes it easier for players who are injured to get back into the game with added support, as it caters for the ankle and shin, making this shoe a possible long term gem.

Cost and Value
The Adidas Rose 7’s come at a price around and average price for a high end basketball shoe. This makes them a mid to high range priced basketball shoe. Being that they are so sleek and stylish, what baller wouldn't want these?
Pros

Molded Collar

Long lasting and durable

Very Breathable

Cons

A bit tight fitting

5. Nike Lebron XV

5. Nike Lebron XV
The 15th release of the LeBron series is possibly one of Nike’s most successful designs when it comes to basketball performance shoes. The revamped Flyknit comes lighter and more comfortable than ever, as well as a combination of cushioning elements that will provide comfort to the most explosive players, including LeBron James himself. While on the court, the LeBron XV will overcome the most demanding and forceful moments of the sport.
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Locked Support
The improvement of the Flyknit material makes it more resistant, flexible and stretchy than ever. Its evolution, the BattleKnit, is specifically engineered and design for the LeBron XV based on the performance and style of LeBron James himself. The fabric compresses your feet to the most optimal point, providing a completely locked-in feel throughout entire matches no matter how rough or fast your perform each motion.

Responsive absorption
For the first time in Nike’s basketball shoe history, both Nike Zoom and Max Air technologies have been implemented in a single pair of shoes at the same time. By combining two of their leading technologies, Nike has achieved a superior level of cushioning with the LeBron XV. This combinations makes hard landings and sudden moves much easier on your body, providing enough cushioning to even the most powerful ballers.

Seamless Fit
As if the shoes weren’t comfortable enough already, the inner build is fully covered by a thin sleeve that resembles the fit of a sock. The sleeve provides an extra dose of support and counts with an easily stretchable collar that wraps your ankle for a much securer fit. Additionally, the collar makes it much easier to put the shoes on and to take them off as well.
Pros

First model to ever incorporate both Nike Zoom and Max Air technologies

Astoundingly comfortable during performance

Flyknit fabric has been upgraded to the new BattleKnit

Easy to wear and take off

Cons

The height of the shoe may affect the stability of users that haven’t worn the LeBron series in the past

6. Under Armour Curry 3

6. Under Armour Curry 3
The young star Steph Curry’s third shoes is in our sixth spot. Being a three point King and winning a recent championship being so young with talent, Steph’s rise to the top ten shoe spot was inevitable. This pretty shoe has the S.C.(Steph Curry logo) engraved on the outer side as well as the end of the tongue. There is also four Under Armour Logo’s placed on all areas of the shoe, all coming in a different color depending on the the color way the buyer gets. It is synthetic, which is molded on the upper, making a nice fit.
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As I said earlier this shoe has synthetic molding around the upper, making it more lightweight and a comfortable fit.

An External PU shell provides extra support for whole foot and durability. It also has a External shank and heel, going as far as to provide stability through the heel, arch and the forefoot, diminish the chances of sliding at all, making the user feel “locked in.”.

Cost and Value
Costing mid range, the Curry 3’s are definitely comfortable and natural shoes. Bound to catch a Steph Curry fan in an instant and throw some sauce in the purchase.
Pros

External PU Shell

Shank and Heel support

Synthetic Molding

Comfortable

Cons

Should order one size up; run small

7. Nike Lebron Soldier XI

7. Nike Lebron Soldier XI
Nike’s combined work with LeBron James has given birth to another highly popular and successful basketball shoe series. The Soldier XI is yet the most efficient and sold product of the series, and it’s also the most recent release. Although it shares some of the Nike technologies with the plain LeBron series, the Soldier approach is completely independent and has a different construction and design.
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Elastic support
The Soldier XI basketball shoe contours your feet in breathable and highly comfortable mesh that, despite being thin, compresses the foot and locks it down during performance. Furthermore, the closure consists of four individual elastic straps with a hook-and-loop closure system that will merge your foot with the boot. The innovative support system assures a locked fit throughout matches, training, and casual wear. It also leaves enough room to rotate and twist comfortable.

Breathable comfort
Like its predecessor, the LeBron XI is designed for minimalist and breathable comfort. The weight optimization of the material makes running, dribbling and jumping easier than ever, experiencing no shoe drag. The stretchy air mesh is backed with a layer of foam that maintains your foot fresh and in comfort on any game, on any court. Additionally, an intuitive construction optimizes the flow of fresh air through the shoe preventing overheating and excessive sweating.

Cushioning technology
Nike knows how important it is to count with the right amount of cushioning when playing basketball. This is why the LeBron Soldier XI delivers exactly what you need to perform on the harsh court; the Nike Zoom Air technology acts as an air pillow that sits under your heel and the ball of your feet. This system is nearly weightless and reduces a considerable amount of stress from your feet when playing basketball.
Pros

Extra ankle support with a soft molded foam around the ankle

Utterly lightweight design in general

Collar notches make it easy to put the shoes on

The rubber sole generates great traction on multiple surfaces, not just the court

Cons

The insole catches smells fairly quick and requires washing frequently (or replacing with a custom insole)

8. Adidas CrazyLight Boost

8. Adidas CrazyLight Boost
A beautiful low topped shoe, the Adidas Crazy Boost does not slack when it comes to performance and comfortability despite going against its higher topped counter parts. Despite being eighth on the list, these shoes are stacked package of goodies. Made for indoor hardwood; the light agileness and molded heel, plus extra goodies such as Jacquard synthetic and Continental rubber makes this shoe a nice fit for anyone wanting to impress peers on the court.
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This shoe has Boost energy returning properties, keeping the player steps charged, returning the energy to the user to elongate performance. The Jacquard synthetic and textile upper makes this piece very comfortable and snug fit. Its continental rubber adds grippiness to the floor, whether it be wet or dry.

The Adidas Crazy Boost has a molded heel collar and heel cap, offering that nice heel fit and stableness to the ground. A nice addition is the ventilated tongue technology. This tech decreases the amount of heat in within the shoe, ventilating cool air in and hot air out.

Cost and Value
Coming in cheap, the Adidas Crazy Boost is priced at a small bargain. It is easily one of the cheapest shoes on the list. But cheap doesn’t determine quality, for this shoe is still a monster. Added with lots of Adidas basketball technology and cheap price, the Crazy Boost is a serious foe on this list.
Pros

Crazy Boost energy share

Jacquard synthetic and textile/ Continental Rubber

Ventilated Tongue

Good for wet and dry conditions

Cons

Are known to be a bit bulky

9. Nike Air Jordan XXXII

9. Nike Air Jordan XXXII
You just can’t go wrong when wearing the series that tribute the basketball legend Michael Jordan. The Air Jordan is unquestionably one of the most successful Nike series, not to mention basketball shoes in general. The 32nd edition consists of a build that is lighter and more breathable than ever before, and is one of the most popular basketball shoes (and casual ones) out there to this date. This release represents MJ’s transition from player to brand owner.
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Minimalist support
With the Air Jordan series, the XXXII particularly, you get much more from less. This means that the supportive qualities are enhanced while weight and volume are reduced. The highly breathable flyknit fabric allows air to flow absolutely free within the shoe – on top of that, it has a very soft touch and resembles the feel of a thin sock. The flyknit expands according to your feet, delivering a customized level of support.

Air cushioning

Nike’s Zoom Air cushioning system is present in the Air Jordan XXXII, providing your heels and feet balls with the protection and comfort they need when performing on hardwood courts. The low-profile technology is highly efficient while still minimalist, adding no bulk and consuming as less space as possible. The air cushion is not only lightweight but also responsive, using your own effort to push you forward in every game.

Explosive power
You won’t run short on your games when owning the Air Jordan XXXII. Forefoot FlightSpeed technology contrasts the Nike Zoom Air and makes a much more efficient distribution of pressure when hitting the court. By optimizing the distribution of tension, the shoes allow you to focus on a specific point of your feet to achieve the most powerful explosion when jumping, running, or dribbling.
Pros

Laces integrate with the Flyknit fabric for comfortable support

Internal foam in the heel and collar for comfort

Solid rubber sole for durability and multi-surface traction

Cons

The outsole is hard to clean if you wear them outdoors

10. Adidas Cloudfoam Ilation Mid

10. Adidas Cloudfoam Ilation Mid
Coming last on our list in the Adidas Cloudform Mids. Though it is the cheapest on our list, the Cloudform is an awesome basketball shoe that is effective and comfy. It comes in leather and is implemented with a grippy rubber sole, of course, making slipping a hard factor to pull off. Though the color scale may not be as vast as the other shoes on the list, the Adidas Cloudform comes in plain solid colors such as grey, white, blue and black, as well as the trademark three stripe pin symbol along the sides.
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The Cloudfoam is cheap, there is no running around the fact, and is more than a good competitor amongst others on the list. This shoe may have instant takers just based off price and effectiveness, making it a basketball shoe to be surely reckoned with.

The Cloudfoam sports a Cloudfoam sockliner and mid-sole. This makes an already lightweight shoe more awesome than it already was. Perforations are added along on the sides, making it easier for the foot to breath and further lengthening play time, ridding of would be sweats.

Cost and Value
The Cloudfoam is a nifty shoe and for the price, a darn good and near tough one to beat. Though it may not come in many styles, there is always someone who will sport it and rock the Adidas name. And if not for style of it, the price will be sure to turn a few heads along the way.
Pros

Price

Side Perforation

Very lightweight

Cons

Does not have the best traction

11. Reebok Shaq Attaq

11. Reebok Shaq Attaq
Don’t let the positioning fool you – Reebok is one of the leader manufacturers when it comes to basketball performance shoes. Their collaborated released with Shaquille O'Neal is a reflection of the retired professional’s skills and abilities on the court. The fifth-highest scoring player in the NBA history is also a professional game analyst after retirement, sharing with Reebok the key points of basketball shoes that give his career the impulse he needed.
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Leather and mesh upper
Leather and mesh alone are not enough to provide the adequate amount of support and breathability, which is why this approach integrates both at the same time. The genuine leather makes the upper durable, stable, supportive and highly stress-resistant. At the same time, the integrated breathing mesh prevents the leather from isolating your feet in an overheating performance. To top it off, both compounds are superbly comfortable.

Injection-molded EVA midsole
Anyone who knows a thing or two about performance shoes (or has at least worn some) knows that there’s no loss in EVA midsoles. The compound is injected in a compressed manner that allows users to get the most out of each gait, jump, and dribble in an extremely minimalist matter. Go lighter and faster than ever while remaining in absolute comfort and protection provided by the EVA compound throughout every single minute of the match.

Custom traction sole
If an abrasion-resistant rubber sole isn’t enough for you, then the intuitive outsole pattern of the Shaq Attack may be your next favorite thing. The pattern was carefully engineered after scientific research on pressure distribution on each part of the shoe. The result is a speed-traction pattern on the heel and forefoot areas, analogized by easy-grip dots on the sides and tip of the outsole for smooth pivoting and lateral movement.
Pros

Smooth traction and solid grip

Intuitive weight-optimized technologies

Utterly comfortable and breathable upper

Lateral motion and pivoting support

Cons

Aimed at wide-feeted basketball players

12. Adidas Dual Threat 2017

12. Adidas Dual Threat 2017
Adidas products tend to stay true to their name, and the Dual Threat is no exception. Normally, guns aren’t allowed in a basketball court – excluding this pair. Each of the shoes pose a threat to your opponents due to the lightweightness and fast action design; you’ll be as fast as you are barefoot. Get access to professional-level features without suffering any of the drawbacks that big shoes usually have; people is easily impressed by the weight of this shoe in relation to its size.
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Lightweight cushioning
A thorough analysis on basketball performance allows Adidas to provide you with just the right amount of cushioning to protect your feet and support your motions without weighing you down. This approach escapes from all previous cushioning standards, giving you a head advantage on anyone that would normally match your speed – if you dare to try.

Optimized cut
The mid-top approach is different from any middle cut basketball shoe out there. This design aims for ankle support and mobility at the same time, preventing the ankle restrictions that are normally experienced in higher basketball performance boots. With 2017’s Dual Threat, you won’t need to sacrifice versatility in order to obtain support and stability regardless of the position you represent on the court.

Circular traction sole
The outsole pattern of this shoe is no coincidence as casual as it may look. Each line in there has a purpose, and the intuitive, scientifically-researched pattern is exactly what you need for sudden and forceful directional changes. With the impressive multi-directional grip you’re able to treat the court as an extension of your body, gripping and releasing as naturally as possible.
Pros

Rubber outsole is reinforced with synthetics on key traction areas

Laboratory-designed sole pattern

No ankle restrictions; extremely smooth

Feather-like weight

Cons

The breathing pores are easily obstructed by outdoor debris and dust

13. Adidas Harden Vol. 1

13. Adidas Harden Vol. 1
James Harden’s first collaboration with basketball performance shoe manufacturers has been a total success in 2017. Adidas’ intuitive technologies and careful design turn out to be an explosive combination when gathered with Harden’s performance style. The retro release takes you back to the ’07 Harden the led the Artesia High School basketball team to the first place of the state championship. If you’ve ever wondered what being a California state champion feels like, these shoes may clear some of your doubts.
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Maximized speed
The low-cut release contradicts the preference and popularity of high basketball shoes, proving that speed is a game-changing factor when used properly. If you want to move like the fastest, the completely uncovered ankle approach is what you need for maximum rotation, flexibility, and running power. A lower top also means less weight, and as any professional basketball player will relate, every ounce represents a step ahead of your mark.

Energy-returning boost
Cushioning is a critical factor on the court, but in basketball, it’s not all about absorbing shock. The energy-returning boost™ technology makes use of your own running power and momentum to put you a step forward from your opponent, returning some of the effort you put into each motion and using it to push you frontward. You’re getting more power with less effort.

Supportive midsole wrap
When moving fast, you need a shoe that can react as fast as you act. A supportive midsole wrap executes this task perfectly, assuring the midsole stays in its natural and most optimal position at all times. Thanks to this, your feet are prevented from swinging anywhere undesiredly, allowing you to focus completely on gaining as much speed as you can.
Pros

Harden’s final game stats marked on the sockliner

Wrapped midsole for maximum running efficiency

Energy-returning boost technology reveals your true potential

Exposed ankle design takes rotation to its maximum point

Cons

The white leather forefoot will get consistently dirty

14. Adidas Dame 4

14. Adidas Dame 4
The fourth collaborated release with Damien Lilllard is just as successful as all other previous ones. Underestimating Portland Trailblazer Damian Lillard is just as big of a mistake as underestimating the footwear designed after his skills. Always staying true to his style and his goals, Dame seeked to create a pair of basketball performance shoes that stay as true as his passion for basketball.
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FUSEDMESH upper
As much as basketball players would like, an upper build made entirely of mesh isn’t supportive enough. The Dame series gave birth to the combination of neoprene and mesh upper build, which delivers the breathability of mesh with the chemicals qualities of the highly resistant and supportive neoprene. This combination of compounds will mold around your feet creating the right fit for each user individually, allowing your feet to expand the upper to a completely natural position.

BOUNCE cushioning
The BOUNCE midsole cushioning technology is just as effective at absorbing as it is at releasing. This cushioning system resembles Adidas’ signature boost technology, except it counts with a basketball-specific twist to achieve the most power on the hardwood court. The more effort you put into your performance, the more power you’ll get out of this midsole.

Neoprene collar
Most people underestimate the importance of a reliable collar. This one in particular, made completely of the neoprene compound, is the cherry on the cake when it comes to support. Just when you thought your fit was totally locked, the neoprene collar prevents the shoe from sliding upward (or anywhere for that matter). The only reason you won’t forget it’s there is that it’s extremely comforting.
Pros

Outsole pattern inspired by Dame’s roots

Neoprene minimalist collar

Neoprene and mesh infused upper build

Optimized upper build breathing pores

Cons

The totally white aesthetic is troublesome to clean and its original color is easily affected by dirt

15. Nike Kyrie 3

15. Nike Kyrie 3
Last but definitely not least is Kyrie’s third co-designed release with Nike. Its last positioning on our list is not meant to take away any credit from the amazing design it counts with. In order to play at the same level as Kyrie Irving, you’ll need to know what his feet feel like while performing – and what better way than doing so than using his very own footwear?
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Advanced traction
No matter what the court you’re playing on is made of, you can absolutely rely on the traction of the Kyrie 3. No matter how fast or how strong, the supreme grip will give you absolute control over each of your motions on the game. The outsole design allows you to run as fast as you possibly can while still making you able to absolutely kill your momentum at the moment of taking a quick shot.

Speed in any direction
The intuitive construction makes this shoe suitable for every single position on the court. No matter how forceful you are, or in which direction you’re meant to move, you’re backed up by quick-action engineering. Move in any direction at any speed without experiencing any sort of sliding or inaccuracy when trying to plant yourself or move horizontally. Break ankles and prevent your ankles from breaking with the very same shoe.

Flexible Support
The third Kyrie manages to blend together two opposite features: flexibility and support. This is achieved by a strong, elastic band located across the top of the footwear that will follow along any flex performed by your feet. Additionally, the Flywire technology holds the shoe together with highly resistant cables infused with the lacing system for even greater support.
Pros

Lack of support isn’t a thing

Suitable for players of all positions

Speed reaction in any direction – even backward

Wide color selection

Cons

The toe-tip material is easily scuffed in light-colored versions

How to Choose the Best Shoes for Basketball

These basketball shoes are incredible and show that shoe technology will continue to evolve. From the Lebrons to the Jordans to the Durants, there is really no right choice, however, there are tech goodies on every shoe that have the different performance capabilities and options different ball players need, no matter who you are.

Best-Basketball-Shoes-player dunking the ball

If you’re a huge basketball sneaker freak or an avid player, this list is guaranteed for you. These shoes have legendary status, and we approve.

 

Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Basketball Shoes

 

Comfortability

Best-Basketball-Shoes-comfort

While playing basketball your feet are going to incur high amounts of shock from the constant moving up and down the court. It’s because of that, you most importantly need a basketball shoe that gives you comfort as you run down the court. Look out for a shoe that has features designed to give your feet a nice fit. One such feature would be the breathable inner sleeve, which provides all around comfort over the feet like a sock. Another great feature to look out for would be the flyknit, which also gives a basketball player a comfort fit in the shoe when put on. If you’re not wearing a basketball shoe that makes your feet comfortable, you’ll be lacking a crucial tool in your ability to play at your highest level.

Realistically speaking, you can’t reach your peak performance if the equipment you’re using is not comfortable for you. Comfort is one of the most underestimated features, yet one of the most important at the same time. If a shoe creates discomfort, everything else won’t really matter – you won’t want to wear them regardless of how effective they are.

Breathability

Best-Basketball-breathable mesh

When playing any sport, particularly basketball, your feet can get hot and sweaty real fast. You want the best open material on your basketball shoe to keep your feet cool during the game as much as possible. If you wear a shoe that causes your feet to get too heated, you increase the risk of skin irritation and blisters occurring. A material you should really look out for is breathable mesh. This helps to allow more airflow to get into your shoe keeping your feet even cooler during the game. A basketball footwear that features synthetic will also pull off the same trick of maintaining cooling throughout the game. It’ll help you to have more endurance to move around late in the game.

At the same time, it’s important that these slim and breathable materials are supported by something a bit tougher. A continuous flow of fresh air within the shoe is paramount for a good basketball performance, but too much breathable materials will cause a lack of structure.

Generally, the best basketball shoes have breathable panels on areas where heat concentrates more commonly. Although this varies a lot based on the model, manufacturer, shape, design, and other parameters, these panels are generally located on the sides of shoes, on the upper foot and the toe box.

As mentioned before, the lack of breathability is a common cause of excessive sweating. At the same time, a large amount of sweat starts to become an obstacle while performing. Sweat can affect the internal traction of your feet and the insole, ultimately causing internal slipping. It will also contribute to the generation of bacteria which leads to odors that stick to your shoe and gradually start to smell worse.

Cushioning

Any shoe that is meant for an impact sport should count with enough cushioning. Basketball is a practice that involves both consistent impact and a lot of aerobic action as well. Because of this, it’s paramount that our feet are adequately protected by the shoe when performing such activities.

Cushioning, unlike many users believe, isn’t just a matter of comfortability. It’s also an important aspect of basketball performance. Although the cushioning doesn’t deal with impact directly, it makes sure that the residual energy that still reaches feet after shock absorption doesn’t harm the user.

But, performance shoe cushioning isn’t only limited to protecting feet from residual impact energy. Basketball involves a large variety of very different movements; movements which generate compression of the foot against the materials of the shoe. The cushioning materials also prevent your feet from damaging themselves against the internal materials of the shoe.

The external materials of basketball shoes are considerably rougher than the internal ones and are not meant to be in contact with feet during performance. The best basketball shoes include a layer of cushioning material that stands between the feet and the external layer of material. It acts as a cushioning wall that prevents damage caused by the tougher materials of the shoe.

Lacking cushioning isn’t really an option when it comes to basketball (or any sport for that matter really). The fact that it’s uncomfortable is enough reason alone to discard a basketball shoe that doesn’t feature enough of it. But, aside from that, the lack of cushioning will contribute to much faster muscular fatigue, as your muscles, bones, and joints will be more exposed to impact and vibration.

At the same time, you don’t want to get too much of it. Cushioning is made of soft, comfy materials; this means that they most likely lack structure and support for a sport like basketball. You don’t want to miss out on cushioning, but having two pillows in your shoes will affect the stability and firmness of each motion.

Fit & Closure

Needless to say, an optimal fit is required in order to play basketball comfortably. Performance shoes are very different from casual shoes in a large variety of aspects; many users make the mistake of comparing these two at the time of purchasing shoes.

A casual shoe won’t really stop you from moving around comfortably if there’s some extra space on the toe box. In some cases, you can even force yourself into shoes that fit too tightly without major consequences. But, this is by no means the same with performance shoes. Both excess space and the lack of it are unacceptable at the time of conducting sports, especially one that involves a lot of feet movement like basketball.

In sports, a shoe that doesn’t fit properly isn’t an option. The ideal fit is one that compresses your feet slightly in order to provide support. It should leave no additional space aside from the thin gap of space between the feet and the materials that is required to twist and rotate freely.

The fit is also affected by the element of the shoe which is possibly the most underestimated one; the laces. A strong closure is a most to obtain the perfect fit for each user. As you probably know by now, nobody has the same feet, and thus it’s impossible to design a shoe that optimally fits all users.

Keep in mind that we’re not talking about the sizing of the shoes, but rather their dimensions in relation to each part of feet. What may be the perfect amount of toe box space for you may be too tight for somebody else. This also applies to the frame of the shoe, which doesn’t compress all feet equally.

The shoe frame itself is meant to compress your feet slightly, which is in part why they’re somewhat firm. If you were to wear basketball shoes without laces, you would still be able to feel the compression from the frame (given that you’re using the right sizing, of course). But, it wouldn’t be enough support to perform.

The closures are what allow each user to compress the fit further, whether they’re laces, velcro straps, or traditional straps. Despite being firm, the frame of the shoe is also flexible. Only flexible enough to allow the closures to mold the frame to your feet. When tying your shoes, notice how the laces pull the materials together around your feet.

An efficient closure system is one that distributes the tension equally throughout the upper of the shoe. In the case of mid boots and higher, which are most often the preferred shoe top for basket, the closure system must place pressure all the way down the tongue, rather than just the uppermost part.

Performance Featues

As we mentioned previously, performance shoes are extremely different from any type of shoe that is design for aesthetic or casual purposes. This is determined by certain qualities that are paramount for the construction of a decent sports shoe. While both casual and performance shoes share certain common features, sports shoes contain them to a much more professional extent.

Basketball, in particular, is a sport that makes use of all kind of motions. These motions generally involve a large amount of force and speed, which a normal shoe wouldn’t sustain. Furthermore, specific practices call for specific features. Basketball shoes, for example, require technology that allows users to efficiently concentrate the energy of their jumps on specific points of the outsole.

These elements and features, such as the outsole, the midsole, the flexibility of the materials and frame, are what tell apart a performance shoe from a casual one.

High Standard Soles

Best-Basketball-Shoes-soles

You can’t expect to get any production in your basketball skills without shoes that have good soles. Good soles not only help to improve your performance with more effective quickness in your basketball moves, but they can also help prevent injuries. A shoe without good soles can lead to slipping and falling on the floor. Keep your eye out for basketball footwear that has rubber soles which will give traction that’ll prevent those dangerous slips and enhance your best moves. You should also pay attention to basketball shoes that have multi-directional traction patterns. It’s specifically designed to give you amazing grip in your steps to help you make those quick cuts that’ll shake defenders off of you.

Outsole

A decent outsole must count with two things; a steady, firm grip and smooth friction. These two are very easy to confuse, and they’re commonly referred to as the same feature – which is wrong. In simple words, the grip is what allows you to hold yourself onto the surface, while the friction is what determines the quality of the movement in relation to the surface.

Despite being two individual things, the grip and the friction must work together to deliver an optimal performance. An outsole that lacks either of them isn’t any good for basketball, as they’re both key parts of the sport.

The best basketball shoes must count with a grip that allows users to stop immediately, regardless of the speed they have and the direction they’re coming from. If you’re approaching the hoop fast and you want to go for a shot, it’s critical that the outsole grips the surface in a manner that it prevents your shoes from moving in any direction once you’ve stopped.

A cheap outsole will be defeated by your momentum, ultimately resulting in slippage or lateral swinging. In order to get a clean shot, any lateral impulse should be neutralized; you only want to move in a vertical dimension when going for the shot to obtain the most accuracy.
You want to get your hands on a quick-action outsole when purchasing basketball shoes.

Some shoes will grip efficiently to the floor when taking a shot or going for a cross-over but will fail to grip when performing quick and continuous movements. Variations of rubber, such as vulcanized rubber, have a slightly stickier surface and helps control fast and forceful motions.

Midsole

Midsoles are the component responsible for most of the shock absorption process. This is why, in most cases, they’re the thickest and heaviest part of shoes. As you’ll know by now, basketball is a sport that involves a great amount of impact – running and jumping create a lot of shock. If this shock isn’t regulated, your joints, muscles, and bones will be severely affected; not only during the match but in the long run as well.

If you’ve ever had extremely sore heels the day after a basketball match, chances are you were using shoes that lacked a sufficiently absorbing midsole. From the moment of impact, the shock moves up from the surface. The first obstacle it will encounter is the sole, which is why it absorbs most of it. However, shock doesn’t stop there.

There’s always a residual amount of force that keeps going up; usually regulated by the insole and the cushioning of the shoe. But, there’s always some shock that gets to your heels, which is inevitable. This isn’t necessarily bad, the heel is the toughest part of the foot for a reason. Regardless, the less energy that gets to your feet, the better.

Rubber has been for many years the default material for the task of absorption due to its qualities. However, new compounds have been created through synthetization. These compounds are denser, meaning that they naturally contain more mass. By having more mass, these materials absorb shock more efficiently, but they must have absorbing properties for this, which is why most of them are rubber variants. Mass alone doesn’t guarantee shock absorption.

Flexibility

The flexibility of a basketball shoe is not an element, but rather a feature that must be present in each element of the shoe separately. When shopping for performance shoes, you must make sure that the frame, upper build, and the sole are flexible enough to practice sports with. Flexibility is the very base of most motions you can possibly make with your feet, and if your shoes lack it, you won’t be going too far in a basketball match.

This is a feature that, like many others, should be present but not in excess. The flexibility of a material is inversely proportional to its support; meaning that as a shoe material gets more flexible it starts to lose its structure and fails to hold the foot in place.

Soles are the ones that need the most flexibility. Flexibility could be referred to as the base of nearly all lower body motions. There are very limited feet movements that do not involve flexing or arching the foot.

Without this feature, it would be nearly impossible to run. While it is physically possible, it’s not something you can do for a whole basketball match. Our feet are meant to flex; we do it when we walk, when we jump, and when we run. A shoe the lacks flexibility will limit all of the motions required for an efficient sports performance.

But, a stiff shoe not only affects your performance; it also harms your feet. No matter how you hold it down, your feet will naturally try to flex whenever a motion requires so. Even when wearing stiff shoes, your feet will still try to flex when walking. By preventing feet from doing so, stiff materials generate a lot of tension and stress, particularly on the arch.

Ankle Protection

Best-Basketball-players on court

As a basketball player, you probably know this better than any other athlete. Ankles are very susceptible to injury when playing an intense game. One wrong quick move with a lack of protection can put you at risk for a sprain that could severely limit you during the game, or potentially keep you from playing for awhile. A great basketball shoe will have a feature to protect your ankles from that, like the mid top feature. It’s designed to give you increased support in your ankles for all your movements. A well-molded collar in a basketball shoe can also be helpful for ankle support, which is a feature basketball player Derrick Rose has had with the shoes he wears.

At the same time, you don’t want ankle support to restrain your movements. Support should only act as a feature that prevents your feet and ankle from assuming unnatural positions that may be hazardous injury-wise, or simply uncomfortable. Too much ankle support will prevent you from rotating freely and will considerably hinder your dribbling ability.

Shoe Security

Best-Basketball-shoes-shoe security

A basketball shoe can sometimes come off your feet during the course of a game, but you don’t want them to be coming off your feet constantly. Effective basketball footwear will stay on your feet most if not all of the game. Certain shoes provide a little bit of extra security to really prevent this from happening. The basketball shoes with velcro straps are a great option to search for. They can be tightened and loosened as much as you need them to be keep them on. It’ll help you to have confidence staying on the move for the whole game, giving you a competitive edge over your opponent who might find themselves slipping out of their shoes.

Support is what holds your feet and your footwear together. When you’re on the court, you want these two to act as just one. Your footwear, as silly as it may sound, is pretty much your feet while playing basketball, and thus your shoes should act like so. It’s important that they mimic the motions of your feet as synchronized as possible. For this, they need to compress it, or rather support it.

Arch Support

This is a delicate topic. The arch is potentially the part of feet that varies the most from one person to another. Even people that share the natural arch angle and height have slight variations in their anatomy. Because of this, it’s impossible to design a shoe that is suitable for all users and the respective qualities of their specific arch.

Normally, performance shoes have a standard level of arch support which generally suits people that has no arch issues. Users that suffer from arch conditions, whether it’s high arch or flat foot, experience a considerably larger amount of stress on the arch – especially when performing sports.

In these cases, it’s up to the user to solve this. The best choice, regardless of what your feet anatomy is, is to purchase customized insoles. In general, this is something all users with arch conditions must do, as they likely won’t find any shoes that suit their specific condition. But in reality, it’s something every single sportsman should do.

Even if the generic arch design of a shoe fits your anatomy, the best way to go is with an insole that perfectly supports the exact shape of your feet, including the arch. The foot arch is affected by flexion and aerobic performance; if on top of that you add stress generated by the lack of arch support, you’ll have a hard time. This is even more important in practices as active and forceful as basketball.

 

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can basketball shoes make me jump higher?

A: You can certainly jump higher in basketball shoes than you could in high heels. In general though, most of your ability to jump high requires you to develop calf strength. If you work those out consistently, and remember to put most of your weight on the front of your foot when you’re jumping, you’ll be jumping higher in no time.

Q: Can I casually wear basketball shoes on a regular basis?

A: Yes, you can wear basketball shoes casually. They’re generally designed to be comfortable for your feet, which is a benefit if your walking for long periods. In addition, basketball shoes can also make for a great stylish option when you’re going out.

Q: When do I replace my basketball shoes?

A: A strong indication you should replace your basketball shoe is if you have aches on your feet from wearing them. You also may notice the bottom of your shoes starting to look old or really worn down. That’s another indication you should replace your basketball shoes as well. Wearing basketball shoes past the need to replace them can risk injury to your feet.

Q: Do basketball shoes make good running shoes?

A: No. Basketball shoes are specifically designed to give ankle support and maximum shock absorption to help with swift side to side movements along with quick stop and go movements. Basketball shoes also tend to be big and thick, so you won’t get the most effective stride in your steps that you could with the sleekness of running shoes.

Q: How to keep basketball shoes clean?

A: It’s suggested the best way to keep basketball shoes clean is to only wear them for playing basketball. However if you do wear them daily, watch out for mud, and be cautious of how much they get scuffed. When you clean them, it’s important to clean the soles to continue to maintain traction. For a shoe that has leather, you need a special leather cleanser, but water and soap work fine for all other basketball shoes

Q: What kind of basketball shoe do I need for outdoor courts?

A: The most important factor if you’re going to be using your basketball shoes mainly for outdoor courts, is to get a shoe with the best traction. Playing basketball on outdoor courts puts more stress on the soles of the shoe. It would be particularly good to look for footwear with thick rubber soles and elaborate traction patterns so they’ll last longer for you.